Portrait of a Generation

Artist: Cornel Brudașcu
Curator: Florin Ștefan
October 31 – November 24, 2013

Portrait of a Generation is the first personal exhibition dedicated to the early works of painter Cornel Brudaşcu, one of the most influential artists in Romania and especially in Cluj, a mentor of many young artists.

Along with his friends and colleagues Ana Lupaş and Mircea Spătaru, Cornel Brudaşcu is an emblematic figure of the 1970s neo-avant-garde, as well as one of very few Romanian artists whose early works can be assimilated to Pop Art. Known mainly through the myths that circulated about them and their work, this group of artists active in Cluj in the 1970s contributed to a radical change of paradigm—in both conceptual dimensions and artistic expression—that created a favorable context for artistic innovation for the generations to come.

This exhibition proposes the first historical restitution of Cornel Brudaşcu’s creation of the epoch, by bringing together a selection of rather unknown paintings from the collections of the museums in Cluj and Zalău. The exhibition opens up new perspectives aimed at providing a better understanding of the spiritual and conceptual aspects of his creation. It is therefore not by accident that this first personal exhibition of Cornel Brudaşcu bears the very suggestive title Portrait of a generation, since one of his preferred subjects of the period was the portrait. His compositions include portraits of his peers such as artist Ana Lupaş – the de facto leader of her generation, sculptor Mircea Spătaru, painters Nicolae Maniu and Ion Munteanu.

Assuming that time has a sense and thus also a material content, these compositions refuse to reveal the specific features of the persons in the portraits, therefore individualizing and objectifying them, opting instead for rendering a specific Zeitgeist that sheds a strong light on the group’s spirit of togetherness and cohesion. The only individual portrait in this selection is that of Ion Munteanu (the prematurely departed friend of the artist), a work that contains a conundrum as it questions how to conserve the spirit of the deceased person through a visual articulation that consequently indicates the dominant tendencies and spirit of their times.

In terms of pictorial representation, the portraits use a visual vocabulary that is partially based on Pop Art, although the artist interprets the subject in a highly personal manner. While it seems that Cornel Brudaşcu did not fully comprehend the aesthetic principles of this artistic movement, the artist had a good intuition about the contemporary changes in visual paradigm therefore introducing in his works visual elements appropriated from the Western advertising imagery and the experimental photography. The German magazine Pop Corn and other publications received occasionally form abroad served as his main sources of inspiration, along with the discovery of solarized pictures that were extremely appreciated in his circle.

Other two works included in this selection, “Young Men on a Building Site” and “Traian Vuia”, bridge the gap between artist’s earlier interest for pictorial innovation, and the next phase in his creation that focuses strictly on the artistic expression despite the obvious ideological themes imposed by the political power of the day. While looking to these paintings, the viewer might be confused by the artist’s decision of not clarifying his position about these subjects and the manner in which he has chosen to paint them. However, the colors make the painted surfaces to vibrate and the clash between the various type of artistic gestures are meant to release spiritual “energies”, articulating in this way a new kind of pictorial discourse that is conceptual and not mimetic.

Later, like many artists of the same generation, Cornel Brudaşcu’s interest had turn towards hyperrealism and, in the recent years, towards a highly personal expression that leans on the pictorial representation of the grand masters of universal painting.

Although the exhibition gathers only a small number of his works, it allows us to understand the stylistic evolution of the painter, opening at the same time a world of pictorial expressions that are able to convey the philosophy and the truths of his generation.

Maria Rus Bojan